The Poor in Spirit

From the Differentiator magazine:
Vol. 11 May-June, 1949 No. 3

(Matt. 5:3)So accustomed have we been to the well-known rendering of this verse, "Blessed are the poor in spirit," that one gets a shock to read, in the Concordant Version, "Happy, in spirit, are the poor." "Happy" is quite correct for the Greek makarios, but why the change in the order of the words? And why, in verse 8, where the Greek construction is similar, not read, "Happy, in heart, are the clean"? One can see an objection to the Kingdom of the heavens being given to those who are deficient in spirit. No doubt, that lies behind the C. V. rendering. But, on the other hand, if the poor one (ptOchos) is one "lacking the means of subsistence" (as the C. V. Concordance defines the word), would it be correct to say that the Kingdom of the heavens is to go to those who experience this poverty? Is that to be the ground of their entrance into the Kingdom? Surely not. Wrongdoers are often brought to poverty, but this does not fit them for the Kingdom.

All the verses in Matt. 5, from verse 4 to verse 11, commence in the C. V. with "Happy are. .." Verse 3 is an exception, although it has the same beginning as the others in the Greek (makarioi hoi, "Happy they"), except verse 11, which begins with "Happy are you" (makarioi este).

The problem focusses attention upon the word for "poor." Does this word in English always mean lacking in means? The dictionary gives it other meanings, including needy, weak, dear. Such expressions as "Poor dear" and "Poor soul" speak of sympathy and endearment. While it is true that the Greek term in the New Testament generally appears to refer to those who were poor in this world's goods, that is not always the case. We must adjust the force of the word by its usage in a few passages. In Gal. 4:9 the C. V. reads "the infirm and poor elements," where the A. V. has "beggarly." Here the word brings before us the idea of being inferior or lowly. In 2 Cor. 8:9, the being rich and being poor cannot refer to means of subsistence, as we are by no means made wealthy (in money or goods) by any poverty of the Lord. That poverty consisted of humiliation, and our being made rich is in spiritual things. In Rev. 3:17, 18 we find the same sense. The Laodicean who thought he was rich was in reality the wretched, the forlorn, the poor, the blind one, and the naked one. In order to become rich, he was counselled to buy of the Lord gold refined in the fire. Indeed, in the latest edition of the C. V. the words poor and rich are here marked as figurative, as is the word rich in 2 Cor. 8:9.

This edition at Matt. 5:3 makes reference to various Scriptures in the O. T. and the N. T., but unfortunately does not cite Psalm 34:18, which, in the LXX reads, "Near is Jehovah to those crushed in heart, and the humble as to the spirit will He save." Here we have tous tapeinous to pneumati (the humble as to the spirit), as compared with hoi ptOchoi to pneumati (the poor as to the spirit) of Matt. 5:3. We suggest that Psalm 34:18 explains Matt. 5:3, while the latter verse explains Luke 6:20, "Happy are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God," just as Luke 6:21, "Happy are those hunger' ing now," does J;lot refer to those who are starving, but is to be explained by Matt. 5:6, "Happy are those who are hunger ing and thirsting for righteousness." James 2:5 is also cited: "Does not God choose the poor in the world, rich in faith ..." All these terms refer to those whose spirits have been crushed and oppressed by the evils of the world, who have lost their soul in this age.

We conclude, therefore, that Matt. 5:3 refers to those who have been, not impoverished in spirit, but laid low in spirit, the lowly or humble in spirit. If you are among those who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness, then ponder well, truly happy is your state and your outlook.

Alexander Thomson

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Listing of Articles

Who is our God? Chapter 1
Who is our God? Chapter 2
Who is our God? Chapter 3
Who is our God? Chapter 4
Who is our God? Chapter 5
Who is our God? Chapter 6
Who is our God? Chapter 7
Who is our God? Chapter 8
Who is our God? Chapter 9
Who is our God? Chapter 10
Who is our God? Chapter 11
Who is our God? Chapter 12
Who is our God? Chapter 13
Who is our God? Chapter 14
Who is our God? Chapter 15
Who is our God? Chapter 16
Who is our God? Chapter 17
A Female Deity?
Acts 7:15 & 16
All Things
Amos 3:6
An Answer to the Challenge of Hell
Angels & Men One Species?
An Interesting New Version
Are You an Ambassador?
Are You a Pillar?
Are You a Witness for Jehovah?
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 1
Are You an Israelite? Chapter 2
Are You an Israelite? Chapters 3 & 4
A Special Resurrection?
Baptized for the Dead?
"Beloved" or "Loveable"?
Brotherly Love
Book Review
Colossians 1:23
Common or Unclean?
Common Sense
Did Paul Visit Spain?
Did the Lord give up His Flesh?
"Divine" Fire?
Doctoring the Holy Scriptures
Does God know Everything?
Does God will Everything?
Does your Spiritual Life seem Unreal?
Did God hate Esau?
Earth our Future Home?
Emphasis in the Scriptures
English more Archaic than Ancient Hebrew?
Ephesians 1:23
Erroneous Translations
Gleanings from A.T.
Heaven our Homeland
How is Christ God's "Word"?
How many were Crucified?
In the Christ All Shall Be Made Alive
Is Dust the Serpent's Food?
Is the Devil Impersonal?
Isaiah 26:14,19
James 4:5
Jehovah's Theocratic Organization
Jesus the Saviour
John 19:29
The Kingdom of the Hebrews
Leave it with God
Men or Mortals?
Misplaced Ingenuity
New Light on the Second Death
None Other Things
Objective Value of Prayer
Other or Different
Our Advocate
Paul's Chain
Paul the Sensitive
Paul versus James
Prevailing Prayer
Problems of Translation: I Cor. 7:21
Problems of Translation: II Cor. 3:18
Psalm 66:18
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
Rogues and Rascals
Rom 9 & 10: Human Freedom & Human Choice
Romans 9:14-24
Romans 9:30 to 10:21
II Corinthians 5:16
II Peter 3:10
Seven Wicked Spirits
Shall We See God?
Sir, We would see Jesus
Should we fear God?
The Bloody Husband
The Cherubim of Glory
The Corinthian Error
The Cunning Manager
The Dead Sea Scroll of Isaiah
The Designation of Jesus as "God"
The Disruption Fallacy
The Disruption Fallacy #2
The Eighth of Proverbs
The Eleven "Generations" of Genesis
The Elohim
The Ends of the Eons
The Eternal Saviour-Judge
The Eternity of Hell Torments
The First Christian Convention
The Four Gospels
The Gentiles in Ephesians
The Greek Definite Article
The Hardening of Pharoah's Heart
The Hebrew Conception of Time
The Hebrews Epistle
The Hebrew Terms Rendered 'For Ever'
The Hope of Israel
The Life of Prayer
The Lord Jesus Revealing the Heart of God
The Lord's Relatives
The Lordly Supper
The Meaning of Ta Panta
The Ministry of Women Parts 1 & 2
The Ministry of Women Parts 3 & 4
The "Penalty of Sin"
The Poor in Spirit
The Primeval Laws
The Primeval Laws #2
The Problem of Evil
The Quality of Divine Love
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Serpent of Genesis 3
The Soul and the Spirit
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 1 & 2
The Talmud of the Jews Parts 3 & 4
The Translation of Acts 28:25
The Trial of the Lord
The Truth of the Bible
The Two Seeds
The Works of Henry Clay Mabie, D.D.
"Three Days and Three Nights"
Translator's Incentive
Truthfulness and Mercy
Try the Spirits
Unto Eternity and Further
We have all been Wrong
What did Peter do?
What does Olethros mean?
What Happened to Jephthah's Daughter?
What is Destruction?
What is the Flesh?
What is the Sin unto Death?
Whence "Eternity"?
Who are the Saints?
Who is Jehovah?
Who Shall Deliver Me?
Why Pray?
Why the "Lake" of Fire?
Will God Punish?
Will the Lord Come for Us?
Will the Man of Lawlessness be Killed?


The Differentiator Revisited 2009